What to prototype a home hobby project on

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Hi, this is my first post in this Newsgroup and part of my first real
look at embedded systems.

I'm reading the excellent book Designing Embedded Hardware and in the
chapter 'Building It' it's suggested that it is best to use PCBs,
especially multilayered ones, that are professionally made. As a budding
home hobbyist who is also doing a Foundation Degree in Electronic and
Computer systems, who'd like to build a small computer, I can't afford
the expence of professionally made PCBs. The sort of processors I'd like
to start with are Z80s or PIC16F877s, later possibly moving up to 68000s
etc. What would anyone suggest I use for prototyping home made hobbyist
projects.

At my Uni, eventually PCBs are made for complete projects, but also
matrix boards are often used for prototyping. Also, what about the
copper strip boards, finally would etching my own PCBs be a good idea,
or would this be just as expensive as Professional boards?

Thank you for your time
Steven Graham

P.S. I've done some googling and Prototype 4 Layer Professionally made
PCBs are a good 300, which for a student's home hobby project is a bit
much :-)


Re: What to prototype a home hobby project on
-Hi, this is my first post in this Newsgroup and part of my first real
-look at embedded systems.

Hi, your post is all over the place. KISS: Keep It Simple Steven.

-
-I'm reading the excellent book Designing Embedded Hardware and in the
-chapter 'Building It' it's suggested that it is best to use PCBs,
-especially multilayered ones, that are professionally made. As a budding
-home hobbyist who is also doing a Foundation Degree in Electronic and
-Computer systems, who'd like to build a small computer, I can't afford
-the expence of professionally made PCBs.

Then don't worry about it for starters. My experience is that using PCBs
for development is dicey at best, though it's great for a finished product.

- The sort of processors I'd like
-to start with are Z80s or PIC16F877s, later possibly moving up to 68000s
-etc.

Again all over the place. There are two competing issues when choosing
platforms: what will do the task and how well do you know the platform. Out
of the three listed above the KISS principle would lean towards the PIC. It's
by far the simplest part to develop with. The problem is that once you get
to know it well, you'll get into a situation where you'll try to solve
every problem with it.

BTW if you're going to do PICs, I'd advise starting with the 18F series. A
good part to start with is the 18F4320 which has all the features a hobbyest
would want.

- What would anyone suggest I use for prototyping home made hobbyist
-projects.

Personally I prototype with wire wrap. Cheap, simple, effective, and sturdy
enough for prototyping. Then look to PCBs for finished product.

-
-At my Uni, eventually PCBs are made for complete projects, but also
-matrix boards are often used for prototyping.

Breadboards? Fine for lashing up something quickly, but flimsy. One loose
wire and a project stops working.

-Also, what about the copper strip boards,

Not as flexible as wire wrap but another good alternative.

-  finally would etching my own PCBs be a good idea,
-or would this be just as expensive as Professional boards?

Of course. It's more hassle then sending boards out, but it'll be cheaper in
the long run.



-
-Thank you for your time
-Steven Graham
-
-P.S. I've done some googling and Prototype 4 Layer Professionally made
-PCBs are a good 300, which for a student's home hobby project is a bit
-much :-)

Of course. But you don't need 4 layer boards. 1 or 2 layer boards from
places like www.olimex.com or www.pcbexpress.com will work just as effectively.

I've found I'm not diciplined enough to implement a complete design and
execute it on a PCB without prototyping first. That's why all of my projects
start with wire wrap until it stabilizes.

BAJ

Re: What to prototype a home hobby project on
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"everyone" started on the Z80 years ago but I would not start there now.
The 68K is effectively obsolete.

I don't like PIC but it is common and well supported.

I would suggest the 8051 for 8 bit and the ARM7 for the next step.

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I wouldn't... It is the new PIC family but AFAIK has not taken off as
expected.

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Yep.


You can get assembled, working dev kits (with a full set of professional
tools) from 39.95 GBP


/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\
\/\/\/\/\ Chris Hills  Staffs  England    /\/\/\/\/\
/\/\/ snipped-for-privacy@phaedsys.org       www.phaedsys.org \/\/
\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/

Re: What to prototype a home hobby project on
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What's really cheap is to use a bare board, long pin sockets, and
wire-wrapping.

For a PIC, you could look into getting one of Microchip Technology's PICDEM
boards. I don't remember how much they are, but I think they were below $100
US.  It comes with some built-in peripherals that you can play on and a small
area for prototyping in. You might also want to look into the Atmel AVR MCUs
and their STK500 eval board ($79 US).


Re: What to prototype a home hobby project on
Thank you all for you great replies, but what happends if a certain
component is only available in surfacemount, what would you do then?

Thanks
Steven Graham


Re: What to prototype a home hobby project on
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You can get DIL adaptors for most SMD packages.

Or choose a different component which is available non-SMD.
--
Tim Mitchell

Re: What to prototype a home hobby project on
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Put the SMD chip upside down onto your breadboard and solder thin
wires to it's legs as needed. IMHO that's called the "dead bug"
method.

Markus

Re: What to prototype a home hobby project on
Any Ideas where I can get hold of DIL Adaptors for SMT components,
preforably in the UK.

thanks
Steven Graham


Re: What to prototype a home hobby project on
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Farnell

www.farnell.co.uk, type "dil adaptor" into the search box


They aren't cheap though, finding an alternative non-smt device should
be your first option.
--
Tim Mitchell

Re: What to prototype a home hobby project on
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Why not make your own? It's quite easy even with rudimentary PCB-making
facilities, although you might as well make the PCB for the whole thing if
you have.

Leon
--
Leon Heller, G1HSM
http://www.geocities.com/leon_heller



Re: What to prototype a home hobby project on

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If you can make PCBs, you can make adaptors.  Assuming you have more
time than money.

The expensive part of SMT is buying an SMT rework station head for every
package size to allow you to desolder that item by itself without baking
everything else, including hands.  With an adaptor, and big fat wires,
you give up frequency response, but regain the ability to rework.

Sticking an SMD down is easy without SMD tools.  Large manufacturing
runs are done using solder paste.  Make a PCB with pads for the SMD and
either holes to string wires through or card-edge connector fingers.

With a fine syringe, deposit solder paste (moderate melting point solder
ground up in flux) on the PCB pads where the SMD sits, put the SMDs on,
and bake the whole thing in a toaster oven.  Warning:  you can't use the
oven for food after this.

You can then solder the wires as though they were pins.  This is less
reliable than putting those pads on your main board, but I am assuming
you want to remove the SMD for revisions.

At higher frequencies, you just gotta stick it down on the board and get
a rework station...

Note:  I bought an SMT rework station because the above is a pain in the
butt.

Re: What to prototype a home hobby project on
I retired. Honestly.Last year my eyes started going downhill,ugh, 50+....
Now I have a basement full of man sized DIP
chips(PICs,8032,ram,xducers,etc....), 30 years worth... collecting dust.
All the new 'neat' chips are ittybitties,way too small for a normal human to
play with.
Now I wished I hadn't got rid of all my TUBEs......ugh.....

oh well.....

Jay



Re: What to prototype a home hobby project on

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Welcome, Steven.


I have used http://www.expresspcb.com and find their quality and service to
be excellent.

Another approach is to purchase eval/demo boards that some of the chip
manufacturers offer.  For example, the Zilog Z8 Encore evaluation kit
(P/N Z8F08200100KIT) includes a board, wall wart, "smart" cable to download
code from a serial port, and CD with docs, assembler/compiler, and an IDE.
The board includes a ZF0822 (includes GPIO, flash controller, four 10-bit
ADCs, UART, I2C and SPI controllers, and two counter/timers), a MAX3222
driving a serial port, three LEDs, two pushbutton switches (one is
reset), and a small prototyping area where you can add other components.

The price from DigiKey and Mouser for all of this is a rediculously low
$40 and all one needs to get up and running a demo program iss a serial
cable!  This has got to be the best value of its kind I have ever seen!
Check it out: http://www.zilog.com/products/partdetails.asp?id=Z8F08200100KIT

--
========================================================================
          Michael Kesti            |  "And like, one and one don't make
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Re: What to prototype a home hobby project on
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I make my own single-sided PCBs at home, it's quite easy. Prototype
double-sided PCBs are as little as 30 from Olimex.

Leon



Re: What to prototype a home hobby project on
On Fri, 04 Jun 2004 17:26:29 +0100, in msg

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It's hard to beat these guys on price and functionality for development boards
on selected MCUs from PIC, Phillips, Atmel and Motorola.

http://www.futurlec.com/DevelopmentBoards.shtml

My only compliant is that the ten pin ISP connector on the Atmel dev. boards
(the only boards I've used from them) does not follow the Atmel standard used by
the STK500.  What were they thinking?  But whatever, it was easy to build a
simple adapter cable.

-Zonn
--
Zonn Moore            Remove the ".AOL" from the
Zektor, LLC           email address to reply.
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Re: What to prototype a home hobby project on
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I would suggest $6.95 PIC-PG1 programmer + $12.95 PIC-P40C-20Mhz
prototype board + PIC16F877 of course

www.olimex.com/dev

Best regards
Tsvetan
---
PCB prototypes for $26 at http://run.to/pcb
(http://www.olimex.com/pcb )
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